Harvard Study Reports Hormones in Milk Are Linked to Cancer

By Rebecca Lewis on February 29, 2012

Milk is considered to be a healthy beverage. However, experts say that modern milk has downsides too. The hormones in milk and other dairy products are found to increase the risk of hormone-dependent cancers. These include prostate, breast, and testicular cancer.

Milk and Other Dairy Products Linked to Certain Cancers

The lead researcher Ganmaa Davaasambuu, a working scientist at the Harvard University looked on past studies to check whether there is indeed a potential link between dairy consumption and cancer. She cited one study that associated dairy with testicular cancer. It was found that such type of cancer is highest in Switzerland and Denmark where cheese is a common part of their daily diet, and lowest in Algeria and other countries where dairy products are not very much consumed. Ganmaa said that for the past 50 years, the increasing rate of dairy consumption in Japan has been connected to the rising death rates caused by prostate cancer. Within 5 decades, the figure went up from zero to 100,000. Dairy consumption is also said to increase risk of breast cancer.

Oestrogen Found in Cow Milk can be bad for Your Health

The milk we consume today is not as healthy as compared to the milk consumed by our ancestors two thousand years ago, said Ganmaa. According to her, there is a close link between cancer and dietary hormones (oestrogen in particular). However, this was not fully discussed and researched. She said that natural oestrogens are up to 100,000 times more potent than their environmental counterparts.

Cow milk, being the most commonly used raw material for dairy products is of main concern. Ganmaa pointed out that cow milk contains high amount of oestrogen which ranges from 60 to 80 percent. The reason for this can be attributed to the current practice of harvesting cow milk. In modern dairy farms, cows are milked for about 300 times in one year. During such time, cows are usually pregnant. The problem is that more hormones are produced by female cows in late pregnancy. During this time, cows produced an oestrogen compound called oestrone sulphate 33 times more as compared to cows in their early pregnancy.

How to Reduce Hormones in Milk

Milk is rich in vitamins C and D, calcium and other enzymes that our body needs. However, the high amount of hormones it contains overthrows its popular benefits. There are ways to reduce the amount of hormones in milk, said Ganmaa. Since hormones are basically stored in fats, choosing skim milk is one way to lessen its hormone content. For those who are consuming milk to boost their calcium levels, there are other sources that have the same nutrient particularly green leafy vegetables. Another way is for dairy farms to make some changes in milk production. Ganmaa suggested milking non-pregnant cows instead of the pregnant ones. Through these ways, people can still enjoy their milk without suffering from its associated risks.

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